"You aim at a devout life, dear Philothea, because as a Christian you know that such devotion is most acceptable to God's Divine Majesty," says St. Francis de Sales in his book "Introduction to the Devout Life".
And we can all be Philotheas, as St. Francis notes: "I have made use of a name suitable to all who seek the devout life, Philothea meaning one who loves God."
Back in October, I wrote (here)
about a situation that had developed here in the Diocese of Baker, Oregon, in
which the pastor of the largest (I think) parish in the Diocese had been
removed from his post, causing consternation amongst the (liberal) parishioners
there. At the time, I said about the “shake-up”:
it’s nothing worth national news,
and it won’t make much difference to you readers who don’t live in one of the
Well, I was wrong about that!
Since then, the priest in question – Fr. James Radloff, who was dismissed from
his position as pastor at St. Francis of Assisi parish in Bend – has made national headlines – in the
Catholic Reporter (aka, the Fishwrap,
as Fr. Z has dubbed it). You can read about it here
If you have the courage (and
the stomach) to read the comments at the Fishwrap
articles, you’ll see that the supporters of Fr. Radloff are by-and-large a
group of people who have no real understanding or appreciation of Catholic
tradition, and who consider the Church to be a democracy whereby the people
should be allowed to elect their own bishops and choose their own pastors, among
other such nonsense. Nowhere is the division in the Church more visible!
Now also consider this: the
canon lawyer for Fr. Radloff is one Fr. W. Thomas Faucher, who is a priest of
the Diocese of Boise. There is an interesting history between Fr. Faucher and
the Diocese of Baker. A bit of that history
is recounted on the website
of the parish of St. Edward the Martyr in Sisters, Oregon:
In 1996 Father W.
Thomas Faucher from the Diocese of Boise arrived ‘on loan’ and, together
with the thriving economy, ushered in a period of growth and parish membership mushroomed to 185
families over the next 3 years. This precipitated the need for an addition
to the church, which was completed and dedicated in 2001… After Father
Faucher’s return to Boise, the parish saw a series of pastors and
administrators, including Father Jim Logan, Father Richard Ley, and Father
Kieran Okoro, all who left their own unique imprint on the parish. In addition,
Father James Radloff, as priest in
residence, added to the community with his own inimitable personality.
It seems to me that we often
hear it said of liberal priests that attendance at Mass at the local parish
sees a huge increase under their leadership. However, as I noted in my previous
post on this particular issue:
appears that with the installation of the newest pastor (and you can see some
of the history surrounding that turn of events here,
resulted in a resurgence of the “old” ways of the dissenting group, and some
have been coming back “to the Church”. But really, when this happens, can we
really say they are coming back to the Church?
I think in large part they are coming back to a pastor they perceive as having
a similar view to theirs of what the Church should
be. That’s not always a good thing.
And indeed, the parish in
Sisters does have a reputation for having a large contingent of liberal-progressive-minded
individuals who push their agenda. In fact, one of the priests mentioned in the
list of previous pastors of the parish was basically run out of town because of
his orthodox perspective. I don’t know what that parish was like before Fr.
Faucher arrived there in 1996, but I do know that Fr. Faucher holds some pretty
liberal-progressive views himself.
For instance, Fr. Faucher
appears to be a long-term defender of homosexual “marriage”. In a 2006 letter to the Idaho Statesman newspaper, he publicly
dissented from Church teaching, saying in part:
Idaho Legislature has approved a constitutional amendment to define marriage in
a manner which will ensure that same-gender "marriage" could never
happen in Idaho. The amendment is subject to voter approval in November.
This is at its core an anti-gay movement.
He adds, among other ludicrous
things, that “The morality of what gay people do is not any more of an issue
than is the morality of those who go to Jackpot and gamble or those who go to
bars and drink.” He acknowledges that “My own church views homosexual activity
as immoral”, but clearly disagrees with this teaching. In public! I wonder if his bishop – who did not dissent from Church
teaching at that time, or since, as far as I know – had a word with him.
Well, that was seven years ago.
Fast-forward to July 2013. In another letter to the Idaho Statesman, Fr. Faucher wrote:
for one, am pleased with the Supreme Court's decision in the DOMA case,
allowing same-sex civil marriages to have federal recognition. I know there are
some in my Roman Catholic Church who are not pleased…
Let’s hope there are more than “some”. But that’s not all. Fr. Faucher, with an
apparent ignorance of – or at least disregard for – the Natural Law, on which
Church teaching is based, says:
authorities determine and change the criteria for civil marriage. Over the
centuries and in various countries they have allowed or forbade polygamy,
determined ages, race, consanguinity, divorce, etc. Saying "traditional
marriage" has always meant one man and one woman is historically absurd. The issue of gender is just one more item
to include in the civil criteria.
Well, there you have it. No
matter what else this man thinks about other Church issues, he is so far off
the rails on this point that I can scarcely believe he could be allowed to give
canonical advice to anyone on any level! Perhaps Fr. Radloff has good reasons
for choosing this priest to represent him in a court of canon law, but
personally, I would not want to be associated with such a man – at least not in
terms of having him represent me before a Congregation of the Church!
After all, people do tend to
believe that “birds of a feather flock together”, and that birds found together
often constitute a flock. Or something. But Fr. Radloff choosing this priest as
his canon lawyer seems rather self-defeating if Fr. Radloff wants to be
perceived as a faithful priest of the Catholic Church.
Well, you can draw your own
conclusions, or just ignore the whole issue. Actually I suggest the latter, but
since this is all happening in my diocese and I know something about the
players, I find it somewhat interesting to see it play itself out.
The questions I’m left with,
though, involve the motivations of the concerned parties. In particular, why is
Fr. Radloff so intent on fighting this dismissal? Sure, I understand that he
has canonical rights, but what of what benefits can possibly come to the parish
or the diocese by this very public fight? There is a new pastor in Bend now; is
his job made any easier by Fr. Radloff’s pending case? Why is Fr. Radloff so intent on remaining
there? Is it the prestige of the parish? Is it because he feels “popular”
there? Does he think he cannot be an effective pastor elsewhere?
Seriously, I cannot think of a single
positive motivation in this; I can only think of selfish motivations. If you can think of a good reason for Fr.
Radloff to fight the dismissal, clue me in. But remember, all of you lib-progs
out there (Pat Smith, I’m talkin’ to you!), that “the people really like him”
is not a good reason, for the simple reasons that not all of the people really like him. Besides, the Catholic Church
is not a democracy, and pastors are not chosen by popularity contest.